Who will start for the Seahawks at cornerback opposite D.J. Reed?
The Seahawks return most of their key players from their 2020 NFC West-winning team, but there’s one position group that faces a lot of uncertainty heading into 2021. That group would be at cornerback.
Last year, the Seahawks had Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar as the Week 1 starters at outside cornerback. Both of those players are on other teams after leaving Seattle in free agency this offseason, however.
The good news for the Seahawks is that one of the two outside cornerback spots appears to be set as D.J. Reed played very well for Seattle opposite Griffin down the stretch last season. But as for who plays opposite Reed this year following Griffin’s departure for Jacksonville, that remains to be seen.
The Seahawks have some options, as Tre Flowers – who started for Seattle in 2018 and 2019 and filled in at times in 2020 – is back for his fourth season. The team also drafted Oklahoma’s Tre Brown in the fourth round of this year’s draft and signed veteran corners Ahkello Witherspoon and Pierre Desir in free agency. Seattle also could move either Ugo Amadi or Marquise Blair, both 2019 draft picks, from the nickel cornerback spot to the perimeter. And of course, there’s a possibility that the Seahawks’ other starting cornerback isn’t on the roster yet.
Former NFL quarterback Brock Huard, an NFL and college football analyst for FOX Sports and co-host of the Brock and Salk Podcast, joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant on Monday and gave his thoughts on who will get Seattle’s second starting cornerback job.
“Ahkello Witherspoon is likely going to be the starter opposite D.J. Reed,” Huard said. “I think you’re going to give him an opportunity.”
Witherspoon, 26, joined the Seahawks this offseason on a one-year, $4 million deal after spending his first four NFL seasons with the San Francisco 49ers.
A 2017 third-round pick out of Colorado, Witherspoon has played in 47 career NFL games (33 starts), recording four interceptions and 24 pass deflections.
Huard didn’t attend any of the Seahawks’ recent practices, so he stressed that his pick of Witherspoon didn’t come from seeing him up close and personal in a Seattle uniform.
“I’m saying that much more from a historical point of view, a body type point of view, a ‘we’re going to make an investment and give you every opportunity to flourish in our system’ kind of view,” Huard said. “So I’d probably point in those directions.”
Under head coach Pete Carroll, the Seahawks have historically had big, long cornerbacks who stand at least 6-feet tall and have 32-inch arms or longer. Witherspoon fits that mold at 6-3 with 33-inch arms.
What about Flowers, who has the most experience in Seattle’s system out of all the candidates, starting 37 games for the Seahawks the last three seasons? While he also fits the bill of a prototypical Seahawks outside cornerback, Huard explained why he doesn’t think Flowers will crack the starting lineup come Week 1.
“I think Tre Flowers has been given ample opportunity and I just think there’s some short-area quickness there that is very hard to develop all of a sudden at this stage of (his) career,” Huard said.
Though Huard’s pick as of late-June is Witherspoon, he does have his eyes on a player on another team.
“I’m probably going to push Ahkello,” he said. “In my heart of hearts I’d love for it to be (New England Patriots cornerback) Stephon Gilmore. But I don’t see them taking that kind of risk until (new deals for) Jamal Adams and Duane Brown get taken care of first.”
Listen to Monday’s edition of Blue 42 from 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant at this link or in the player below.